Backchannel Chat: My Choice to Replace TodaysMeet

I’m still mourning the loss of TodaysMeet. I used it regularly as a teacher and presenter. It was the rare tool that was easy to use and free. I’ve been on the hunt for a viable replacement. Richard Bryne posted a blog with six potential alternatives to TodaysMeet. I explored them all and settled on Backchannel Chat.

I selected Backchannel Chat, in part, because it reminded me of TodaysMeet’s simple interface. Last week, I had the opportunity to test drive it in three separate workshops.

I opted to use the free version for my experiment and filled out the small form required to create my backchannel URL. It is important to note that the free version only allows you to create one room. This was enough to make me want to pay the $15/year to get unlimited chatrooms because I like to use a separate space for each of my classes and workshops.

When you press “Start,” your backchannel appears. The interface is clean, simple, and easy to navigate. To enter your room users need the URL and a password if you created one. I chose not to use a password for my trial run since it is another layer of complexity for people entering the room.

As participants at my workshop entered the chatroom, I realized there was a cap on the free version. Only 30 people can enter a chatroom at one time with the free version. The paid for version allows up to 50. Since I regularly have classes over 30 and most of my workshops have close to 50 participants, I will need to purchase the paid for version.

There are several features I was excited to discover as I used Backchannel Chat.

  • I enjoyed seeing everyone’s names and avatars on the right-hand side of my screen.
  • There is a search feature, which makes it easy to find content in the chat.
  • Transcripts of the chat can be easily downloaded and shared.
  • I can pin a welcome or instruction note to the top of the screen.
  • The “chat stats” makes it possible to track participation quickly.
  • I can embed media in the chat.

Since Twitter is my preferred method for sharing content, I was excited to see that I could copy and paste a Tweet directly into our chat. Teachers can do the same thing with YouTube videos!

I could tell Backchannel Chat was created by educators because the features available for teachers who pay the $15/year are excellent. In addition to allowing more people in the chatroom and creating unlimited chatrooms, the paid for version makes it possible for teachers to:

  • Send private messages to students
  • Integrate their chats into Schoology and Edmodo
  • Embed their chats into a class website
  • Create “office hours”
  • Provide a single code or URL for all chats
  • Attach files
  • Personalize avatars
  • Search all content (not limited to 3 months)

I also have to admit that I enjoyed writing messages longer than 140 characters, which was the TodaysMeet character limit. It allowed for a more robust conversation.

If you are using something else to replace TodaysMeet, please post a comment and share! I’d love to find out what other educators are using and enjoying.

This entry was posted in Learning. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Backchannel Chat: My Choice to Replace TodaysMeet

  1. Aeriel Wheeler says:

    This is a great way to have discussions where every student gets to have a voice! I love that you are able to keep track of participation and also have the option to embed videos. Awesome tool, I can’t wait to try it out for myself!

  2. Thanks for the suggestion! I’ve been using the backchannel built into Google Slides, and I’ve been happy with that tool: it’s free and easy.

    • PALMS PolyU says:

      Hi everyone!

      I’ve used TodaysMeet for 2 years and loved it! but found I wanted some more functionalities. Therefore, I’ve made my own NEW TODAYSMEET! called YoTeach!

      Please go to http://www.yoteach.hk, or http://palms.polyu.edu.hk/educational-apps/yoteach/

      It has all the features of the old todaysmeet, PLUS more: drawing and annotating functions; like comments; download transcripts; mute students; delete messages; ALL FOR FREE!! QR code generation; password protected rooms; search function for rooms, etc…

      • Very cool! I just set up a room. Do they time out or expire? Can you clear a room of content and reuse it?

        Thank you for sharing this with me and my readers! Backchannel Chat has frozen on me several times in the last month so I am excited to have another alternative.

        Catlin

  3. Pingback: Sharing Diigo Links and Resources (weekly) | Another EducatorAl Blog

  4. Maranda says:

    Would this be a good program for a tutor? I cannot be with my students everyday and I am wanting to use it as a way for my students to ask questions easily when I am not with them 1 on 1. I was thinking about a chat room for each individual student and then maybe a group one? What are your thoughts? Please help.

    • Hi Maranda,

      Yes, you could definitely use it that way. I would suggest checking out Google Classroom or Schoology as more robust options for connecting with your tutoring students and sharing resources.

      Catlin

  5. Cuboid says:

    Hi everyone!

    PALMS PolyU beat me to it, but after using TodaysMeet in my school for several years I’ve also developed an alternative – MeetToday.
    You can check it out here: http://cuboid.tech/
    The site is fully open source, with a beautiful interface that’s a bit more advanced. Currently there is only the function to chat, create rooms and join public rooms, but I am in the process of adding markdown support, more admin features and image uploading including many more features. Best of all, anyone can join in, even make their own version as MeetToday is fully FREE, with published code.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *